Credit card users could be hit with a new “Brexit tax” amounting to some £166m if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, according to papers published by the government today.
Businesses and individuals could also face increased costs for slower cross-border payments as Britain would lose access to critical banking infrastructure.
The admission was buried in a thick pack of no-deal assessment papers released by the government, which also signalled a raft of new taxes payable by traders, new bureaucratic regimes and fresh controls on goods exported to and imported from the EU.
While ministers urged Britons to “not be alarmed” by no-deal planning, they set out some of the broad and deep impacts of leaving the EU without an agreement in place – for example, tobacco manufacturers will even be forced to find new warning pictures for their product packets.
A workable solution to the issue of the Irish border was also missing from the first batch of no-deal planning papers, with more expected next month.
In a section dealing with individual consumers of financial services, officials said: “The cost of credit card payments between the UK and the EU will likely increase, and these cross-border payments will no longer be covered by the surcharging ban (which prevents businesses from being able to charge consumers for using a specific payment method).”
The surcharge ban only just came in last January, but according to government data from previous years, removing it will mean credit card users being hit with a cost of up to £166m.
The implications for businesses making payments across borders are also stark, with the paper setting out how in a no-deal scenario, “UK-based payment services providers would lose direct access to central payments infrastructure – such as Target2 and the Single Euro Payments Area – meaning customers (including business using these providers to process euro payments) could face increased costs and slower processing times for Euro transactions.”
In one document dealing with the government’s broad approach to a no-deal Brexit, officials say: “It is only at the point that that the UK parliament has ratified the deal and the EU council has obtained the European parliament’s consent and adopted the decision to conclude the agreement, that we can be certain that the UK will not enter a no deal scenario in March 2019.
“Preparations for a no deal must therefore continue. People and businesses should not be alarmed by no deal planning and preparation, nor read into it any pessimism.
“Instead they should be reassured that we are taking a responsible approach, ensuring the UK’s exit can be as smooth as possible in all scenarios.”
But the papers proceed to then set out the new barriers, costs and risks that businesses and individuals could face.
For firms importing goods into the UK from Europe, they will see their businesses treated like those bringing items in from the rest of the world – with the obligation to pay VAT and import duties, including excise duty.
They may also need to apply and pay for an import license and register with EU and UK agencies and fill out import declarations with the correct HMRC classification of goods, not to mention safety and security declarations.
For the critical financial services sector EEA firms currently passporting services into the UK will be placed in a Temporary Permissions Regime for up to three years while they apply for authorisation from UK authorities.
Because the EU owns copyrights on pictures that currently go on tobacco products, manufacturers will be forced to seek new ones – demonstrating the breadth of the EU’s influence.
On Ireland the reports said: “The Irish government have indicated they would need to discuss arrangements in the event of no-deal with the European Commission and EU member states.
“The UK stands ready i this scenario to engage constructively to meet our commitments and act in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland, recognising the very significant challenges that the lack of a UK-EU legal agreement would pose in this unique and highly sensitive context.”
Source – The Independent (UK )